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Trump: FEMA & Responders Can't Be in Puerto Rico "Forever"; What Trump's Mar-A-Lago Trips Are Costing TaxpayersKelly Denies Trump's Tweets Make His Job Harder; Chief Of Staff: My Job Isn't To Control Trump; New Film About Young Thurgood In Theaters Tomorrow; New Legal Thriller About Young Thurgood Marshall; Director: Young Thurgood Had Swagger With Sense Of Humor. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired October 12, 2017 - 16:30   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: We asked CNN's Leyla Santiago who joins us live from San Juan to tell us about the facts on the ground about the relief effort -- Leyla.

[16:30:05] LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, the fact is hospitals have had to evacuate because generators are failing. The fact is that people are leaving this island because of conditions.

So, as the president takes to Twitter to self-congratulate a job well done, Jake, the fact is, many have yet to receive help from FEMA.


SANTIAGO (voice-over): The destruction, a constant reminder, Maria's eye was here just 24 hours. Three weeks later, Puerto Rico is unrecognizable. But for us, this is familiar. We were here in Quebradillas just four days after Hurricane Maria struck.

When we arrived, a woman, a complete stranger embraced me in a way I will never forget. Desperate, she explained no one else had been to her town since the storm. No one else had come to see if that mountaintop community had even survived.

Her name is Brenda.


SANTIAGO: We wanted to find her again to find out how she's doing.

(on camera): That's her right there.

(voice-over): She recognizes us immediately.

The mayor she tells us brought a box of emergency food. The neighbors all shared it. There's nothing left now.

(on camera): The president has said that he's doing an A-plus job in recovery efforts, how would you grade.


SANTIAGO: What grade would you give him?

RESIDENT OF QUEBRADILLA, PUERTO RICO: I'll give it a D. We have not seen anything.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): It's hard for them to give the U.S. government a good grade when they still don't have power or water. More than 80 percent of Puerto Rico, no electricity. Maria left these mountains scarred, mudslides are closing off entire communities across the island.

(on camera): So this is as far as we can get in this part of Anasco. There's a whole community back there. You can see that there's water that's taken over the road, there's mud. Trees down, making it difficult to reach this community. So, we're going to have to go by foot in order to get to them.

(voice-over): Along the way, we meet David.

He's a veteran, an orange farmer from the neighboring town who just wants to help. He hiked in with a full crate of water and ice.

(on camera): So, right now, you're having to walk through all of this, why?


SANTIAGO (voice-over): The people. That's what makes it so hard for him. At 70 years old, he's one of the few reaching the people in this community that he loves.

A half hour hike through an area once slush now stripped of leaves and color, we learn one helicopter landed here since the storm. The bottled water is running out, along with the food for Hosian (ph) five months old, completely unaware of the reality surrounding him.

(on camera): She's worried about the milk and water for him. She only has two gallons left.

(voice-over): Mom tells me, it's only enough for another week and a half. She needs more. She needs more power. She needs another helicopter to land here soon. A third of the island doesn't have clean water.

As we move to another part of the island, we spot help.

(on camera): What are you guys doing down there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're headed up this road right here.

SANTIAGO: Are you bringing supplies?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we're bringing some stuff to them.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): In Utuado, the interior, the director of emergency management tells us they've been able to reach everyone here, his challenge, communication. (on camera): This is what they've been given out here. OK. It's got

a number, it's got a Website.

But in an area where there's no cell service and there's no Internet, that's a problem.

(voice-over): He insists help is flowing. But it's not what we found when we talked to Sylvianne up the road. Her home battered by Maria, the floors still wet. No power here either.

(on camera): I notice she doesn't have a roof, but I also notice that flag she's flying.

(voice-over): The reason, she says --


SANTIAGO (on camera): She says that's their salvation.

Among the devastation, the desperation, she says she flies this flag with pride, waiting for help to arrive.


SANTIAGO: And, Jake, when you talk to people like we did out in the remote areas, when you talk to first responders, when you talk to FEMA off camera, they will tell you, this isn't a matter of weeks or months, this is a matter of years in recovery efforts to get Puerto Rico back to some sense of normalcy.

TAPPER: A powerful piece from Leyla Santiago, thank you so much, Leyla. Appreciate it.

It turns out all those trips President Trump takes to his club at Mar- a-Lago are not only expensive, the president might also be profiting from them. We'll explain next in our conflict of interest watch.

Stay with us.


[16:39:28] TAPPER: In our money lead today, President Trump often spends his weekends at what he calls the southern White House, better known as the Mar-a-Lago Resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

Ethics experts warn that the president's visits to his glitzy private resort alone constitute a conflict of interest because it gives the property and the private club free publicity.

Beyond that, these trips may financially benefit President Trump. The taxpayers foot the bill for him and his family and his staff and the Secret Service, all staying at the resort, which many ethics experts believe could be unconstitutional.

CNN's Cristina Alesci joins me now for our latest installment of conflict of interest watch. [16:40:02] Walk us through how the president could be profiting from


CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: When he goes to Mar-a-Lago, he obviously has a secret service detail with him. That Secret Service detail, some members of that detail stay with him at the club, incur other costs at this very high end club.

The question is, how much is -- how much tax payer money is going into his private club? We've been pressing for answer on this and here's what we found so far.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've had a lot of success in Florida, and I love it, it's my second home. I'm here all the time.

ALESCI (voice-over): During the winter, President Trump spends most weekends at his private club in south Florida, Mar-a-Lago, aka, the winter White House.

TRUMP: We get a lot of work done. There's not rest at the southern White House. It's all work.

ALESCI: His trips cost taxpayers, and the visits may benefit him financially.

CNN documents government travel expense forms and receipts that offer a window into how the president could profit from his weekend getaways. A review of those documents show the secret service paid Mar-a-Lago at least $63,000 between February and early April. The invoices on Mar-a-Lago letterhead include charges that range from $1,300 to a little over $11,000.

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: All of this, you know, comes at a cost, but the cost is justified to the security output and the security posture that's necessary to protect the president of the United States.

ALESCI: The Secret Service redacted important details before making the documents available, but experts say the money probably covered hotel rooms and work space for agents who have to stay close to the president.

WACKROW: The detail leader can't be sleeping in the hall. He does need a room.

ALESCI: At the time of the expenses, the president's press secretary defended his frequent trips to Mar-a-Lago, and the resources it required.

SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president wherever he goes, he carries the apparatus of the White House with us. That is just something that happens.

ALESCI: Trump has spent 42 full or partial days at his Mar-a-Lago Resort since he was elected, 25 of them since president.

Government ethics hawks argue that the flow of federal money to Trump is inappropriate. In fact, the former director of the chief's ethics agency said the president should stop visiting his properties altogether.

WALTER SHAUB, FORMER DIRECTOR, U.S. OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT ETHICS: I'm telling you right now, stop going to your properties. Tell the White House officials not to go to those properties.


ALESCI: So, Jake, the problem from an ethical standpoint is does this situation create a perverse incentive for the president to go to his properties separately, does this activity violate an anti-corruption or self-dealing clause in the Constitution? And the answer to that question may rest in how much Mar-a-Lago is charging the Secret Service.

Now, a "Washington Post" report indicated a couple weeks ago that Mar- a-Lago is charging the federal government what's calling a rack rate, which is a non-discounted rate. And there's no reason to do that to the federal government.

TAPPER: So, to make as much money as possible off the government if you're doing the rack rate.


TAPPER: Cristina Alesci, thanks so much.

My political panel joins me now.

Bill, let me start with you. I want to get your thoughts on White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. He gave this rare press conference where he explained what he's been trying to do since he came on board and also wanted to assure everyone that he wasn't being fired or wasn't leaving.

Take a listen.


JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I was not sent into or brought in to control him, and you should not measure my effectiveness as a chief of staff by what you think I should be doing. But simply the fact is I can guarantee to you that he is now presented with options, well thought out options.


TAPPER: What'd you make of Chief of Staff Kelly's performance today?

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, he was -- big fan of John Kelly. You can see why people respect him so much. He was calm. He has a dry sense of humor. I think he did because there was a big article in "Vanity Fair" was

it yesterday by Jake Sherman, which had Donald Trump being unhappy with things at the White House, sort of losing his temper, and -- more than implied that John Kelly was sort of keeping things together and Trump wanted Kelly to reassure everyone that A, Kelly wasn't leaving, and B, this was the importance sentence you just played, that Kelly -- John Kelly's job is not to control Donald Trump.

I trust that John Kelly's job is to control Donald Trump and that John Kelly was saying what he had to say to keep Donald Trump happy. Part of controlling Donald Trump is saying publicly that you're not controlling Donald Trump.

TAPPER: What do you -- what do you think?

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I definitely agree with that. I think that John Kelly's in an interesting position that many White House staffers under this administration have found themselves in which is trying to appease the boss and still trying to ensure that in some way, some aspect of his accomplishments will -- or some aspect and what he's hoping to accomplish will get done.

That is a really tenuous balance. I can't imagine what they're going through when every single day, perhaps moment by moment, they can be distracted and completely thrown off by tweets. Some that you also responded to, Jake.

[16:45:00] TAPPER: So, one of the things that Chief of Staff Kelly said, he said he wasn't frustrated in his job, at least not enough to leave. And he also said that the President's tweets including his attacks on fellow Republican Senator John -- Bob Corker rather that that does not make his job harder. Did you find that convincing?

KRISTOL: No. It obviously made everyone's job harder in terms of passing legislation and more broadly in terms of convincing the Republican Party that Donald Trump is trying to help them get things done rather than trying to destroy the party. This is also having the contacts to Steve Bannon announcing -- was that -- was that earlier this week? A lot of this stuff happened in the week in the Trump Presidency --

TAPPER: A year and a day, yes.

KRISTOL: -- that he was going after the entire Republican establishment, basically ever sitting Republican Senator for reelection except for Ted Cruz. Other-- he'll be running the primary -- he won't be running, but he'll be trying to help support Trump primary candidates and other open seats where Democratic seat where they're challenging. And so I think, you know, that, that's pretty startling. I mean, it's Bannon's title to do it. He's doing what Trump said he wants to do in a sense and so do what Bannon wants to do which is fundamentally to change the Republican Party. But you've got a Republican Party that exists in Congress and actually has a majority in the Senate and the House. And I do think John Kelly was --it's very hard now I think to keep these guys feel like gee, I should really work hard with Donald Trump if they're just going to get attacked by Trump's surrogates in any case.

TAPPER: It's weird because normally one would think would be somebody like Steve Bannon leaves the White House and goes out to try to build on the Republican Party, make their majority bigger so that they have even like a veto-proof majority in the Senate or whatever, a bigger, a majority in the House, but instead he's actually focusing mainly at least right now on Republicans.

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. And I think there is for good reason, you started, you said John and John McCain was one of the first people attacked by Donald Trump and even after his tumor was announced, Donald Trump is still attacking him. What is so interesting to me, having worked on the Hill when President Obama was in office and there was -- we had Democratic House and Democratic Senate and of course the administration. There were a number of things that got done. So it's been fascinating to me to watch Donald Trump sabotage his own agenda in so many ways by attacking people who may not agree with him all the time. One of the old adages that the Congressional Black Caucus relies upon for example is no permanent friends or enemies, just permanent interests and somehow, that added to has completely missed him.

KRISTOL: Well, Trump's permanent interest is himself. And really his ratings (INAUDIBLE) I really thought about this. I don't think he cares much about his agenda. He thinks he could be a -- look, the economy we're fine, the stock market is fine, we're not at war. He feels that he can be successful by fighting the NFL, by having culture war fights, by being you know, involved in celebrity sort of reality T.V. kind of thing, and I don't know how much -- he wants to win, so he can't just lose everything. But the core thing is amazing. He's going to announce tomorrow, President Trump, that he wants to decertify --

TAPPER: The Iran Deal. Yes.

KRISTOL: Bob Corker was key in the Iran deal. He's Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I think there were plans -- they've been working a little with Corker to try to get in sync on this, Tom Cotton a more hawkish Republican Senator were working with Bob Corker to try to get the Republican Party united. This is a moment of delicacy. It's a moment to be nice to Bob Corker if you care about successfully moving ahead on Iran without the Iran deal, which I'm for too, which is Trump has made a big deal. So it's really is kind of crazy. If you care about the substance, he shouldn't be doing with Corker. But he cares more about attacking the Republican establishment than he cares about the substance about any of these issues.

TAPPER: Or just attacking anyone really. And Angela, I wanted to get your thoughts on this because yesterday, at the top of the show, I held up the constitution because the President was talking about going after with the apparatus of the federal government, NBC News, and other media organizations. He tweeted, "Network news has become so partisan, distorted, and fake that licenses must be challenged and if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public." Now beyond the technical fact that all of that is just incorrect, it's not how it works, and you don't need licenses and whatever, he's actually talking about getting the government to go after media organizations for reporting things he doesn't like. It is, it just boggles the mind. I can't -- if President Obama had said that about Fox or Breitbart or whatever, I mean, the reaction would -- there would be people with torches in the street.

RYE: Unfortunately there are folks with torches in the streets right now not for the licensing component but for other seed of discord that Donald Trump has sown. This is yet another example of the fundamentals of government he doesn't understand. Makes you wonder how much he knows about the FCC and whether or not he's engaged, the folks there that really understands that this is not accurate. This is not how it works and why are you threatening people? This is not an authoritarian regime no matter how bad he wants it to be one.

TAPPER: All right, Angela and Bill, thanks so much for being here. I really appreciate it.

Coming up, a new film about a pillar of the Supreme Court and a pioneer for racial justice. The Actor and Director behind the new movie about Thurgood Marshall will join us next.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thurgood Marshal with the NAACP.



[16:50:00] TAPPER: Welcome back. The "POP CULTURE LEAD" now, 50 years ago this month, Thurgood Marshall was sworn in as the first African American Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. But long before Marshall made that history or even before he argued the famous school desegregation case, Brown versus Board of Education, Marshall was a young NAACP lawyer fighting for justice. Kind of like a superhero according to the people behind the movie in theaters nationwide, Marshall. A courtroom thriller about the making of a pioneer.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I only represent innocent people. People accused because of their race. That's my mission.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never touched that woman.


TAPPER: Joining me now, Chadwick Boseman who plays the young Thurgood Marshall in the new movie Marshall and Reginald Hudlin the Director of the film. Gentleman, thank you so much for being here. It's an honor. I'm a fan of both of you, have been for a long time.

REGINALD HUDLIN, DIRECTOR, MARSHALL: Thank you. TAPPER: Reginald, let me start with you. When I heard there was this movie, I assumed it was going to be a kind of traditional biopic just telling the story of his life. It's not that at all, it's a courtroom drama about one case.

HUDLIN: Yes, I mean, first of Thurgood's life is too big for a single movie, that's a miniseries. But I was intrigued by this case because you don't know about it. You know, you learn about Brown versus Board of Education in grade school. Oh, I know what that is. And you're used to seeing him on the Supreme Court. But to see young Thurgood, swagger, you know great sense of humor, going from town to town like a Marshall delivering justice, dealing with a case that is you know, sex and violence, very tabloid-worthy. This is a Thurgood we haven't seen.

TAPPER: And you have played a lot of icons. You played -- people might not know that because they might not recognize because you're so different in all of them. But you played James Brown, you played Jackie Robinson, you played Thurgood Marshall, all completely different. You really inhabit the characters in such a fascinating way. How did you become the young Thurgood Marshall? Did you go back and study films of him, listen to tapes, what did you do?

CHADWICK BOSEMAN, ACTOR, MARSHALL: Well, I had in those other two films you mentioned, there was you know, hall of fame footage of Jackie Robinson playing baseball, there was concert footage of James Brown and lots of other footage of James Brown as well, interviews. With Thurgood Marshall, you're looking at court cases. You're looking at biographies and autobiographies and you're sort of extracting his personality from that and the situations that he's in. You're talking about a man who lived with friends, you know, he lived in the Harlem Renaissance. His friends were you know, the greatest artists of that time, and he left that to travel around the country and fight justice in places where his life was in danger. So what is -- who is that man that has that courage and arrogance and selflessness to go do that? And so, I sort of pulled, you know, his swagger and his vibe from that experience. A man who loved life, but was willing to put it all on the line.

TAPPER: And sadly, the issues from this film about whether in the 1940s a black man could get justice in America still resonate today in 2017.

HUDLIN: Tragically the jury's still out. I mean, Thurgood Marshall is an American hero for many reasons, but one of them is that he took the promise of the constitution, all men are created equal, and did more than anyone else to try to make that a reality. So he didn't just break the laws on behalf of justice, he made laws both as an attorney and then later in the Supreme Court. But, the challenges for each generation to have to fight that fight all over again is tragic, but it's the reality of our situation.

TAPPER: It's so fascinating that both of you in different ways are exploring one of the great black superheroes of decades ago, Black Panther. You wrote a bunch of comic books, Black Panther you're about to portray, Black Panther and my producer and I were talking about this. It's interesting because in a way Thurgood Marshall is almost a superhero too and his super strength is his courtroom ability and how good he is in a courtroom. And he walks and you talked about how arrogant he is or how arrogant he was, and his confidence on how good he is compared to everyone else.

BOSEMAN: Well, he -- you want to go first?

HUDLIN: No, you go.

BOSEMAN: Well, he was the, in some cases, the NAACP didn't have a lot of money during this time period we're dealing with. This is, you know, the year before the U.S. enters World War II. They didn't have a lot of money. So he was literally only attorney running around dealing with these cases. So if he didn't -- if he couldn't take this case in Alabama because he had to be in Oklahoma or Bridgeport, or whatever, this person suffered. So it's the superhero quality. It's like, can Black Panther be in the same place at the same time?

HUDLIN: And really this movie is sort of an origin story if you think of it in superhero terms. You know, this is the making of Thurgood Marshall where, you know, he goes through an evolution in terms of seeing how to wage the war he's fighting. And you know, you see him, you know, creating a new strategy and he transforms the lives of everyone he encounters in the course of the film. You know, both on the defense and even the people that he's fighting against. No one is the same by the end of the film.

TAPPER: It's a great film. The movie's Marshall, Chadwick Boseman, and Reginald Hudlin, thank you so much.

HUDLIN: Thank you.

BOSEMAN: Thank you, man.

TAPPER: Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter, @JAKETAPPER or tweet the show @THELEADCNN. That is it for THE LEAD today, I'm Jake Tapper. Turning you over to one Mr. Wolf Blitzer right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.